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3% prison tour a huge success

Dechlan Brennan -

Dallas Woods, Nooky, and Angus Field, the Indigenous artists who comprise the collection 3%, recently performed at a number of Victorian prisons as part of 'Treaty Day In' and National Indigenous Times was able to be exclusively attend one of the concerts.

'Treaty Day In,' a series of performances in undisclosed Victorian prisons, is a token of gratitude by the First Peoples' Assembly to all Indigenous prisoners who voted in the 2023 Treaty elections.

Unlike for Federal and State elections, the First Peoples' Assembly allows all First Nations people in Victoria to enrol to vote - even if they are incarcerated for any period of time.

First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria head of engagement and communications, Kokatha woman Amy Rust, told Crikey in May that in order for the Assembly to negotiate Treaty, everyone must be involved.

"Mob in prison have often experienced firsthand the impacts of colonisation and systemic racism, whether that's through the criminal justice system, unfair policing or not having access to community and support services when they need them most," she said.

In Victoria, despite numbering approximately one per cent of the population, First Nations peoples make up 10. per cent of the prison population.

The three Indigenous artists, whose recent single 'OUR PEOPLE' waxes lyrically on the issue of Indigenous deaths in custody, said the visit was an "eye opener."

"The excitement and happiness on the inmates' faces when we perform has been great," they said.

"The messaging of these things is just so important. You are just as valued by Mob being on the inside.

"We want to let them know that we still see them, even though society doesn't always think that way."

National Indigenous Times witnessed a crowd that cheered for every song that was played during the hour-long set, with the inmates standing as one at the end.

The three artists - who all come from different parts of the country - said they were exhausted by the busy week, but were grateful for the opportunity.

Angus Field, who originates from Byron Bay, said the experience was one of immense "privilege."

"Having never been inside of a prison before, It has been a real eye opener that's for sure," he said.

The collective said the feedback they received from prisoners they had talked to was positive.

"One inmate said for the first time in a long time it felt like they were on the outside again, just living life. That was really important to us," they said.

Operating under a name that reflects their people, who constitute three per cent of the Australian population, the group's whirlwind tour took them throughout the state, visiting multiple facilities.

The collective had previously said it would have been "easy" to tour up and down the East Coast in support of their new single, but "hearing the news of another Black Death in custody" resulted in them pausing to "think about what it all means to us."

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